An EPC, or Energy Performance Certificate is a guide with information for prospective tenants and property buyers covering the property in question’s energy efficiency. EPCs detail how well and efficiently the said property uses energy and manages its use throughout the year. It also routinely states a calculated projected average cost of running the property based on the efficiency results.
The certificate informs the landlord, tenant or property owner of ways in which they can improve the energy efficiency of the property and the positive effects that such changes will have to the property, its efficiency and the bills following thereafter.
EPCs were introduced in England and Wales in August 2007 as part of the Home Information Pack (HIP) scheme. These packs were designed to inform and instruct owners and landlords of the ways in which to improve their properties prior to putting them up for sale.
Part of the EPC process is an accredited assessor’s carrying out of Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) calculations to help formulate the final EPC rating for the property. An Energy Performance Certificate is legally required to be obtained prior to the sale or letting of a property in England and Wales.
When Do You Need an EPC?
Whenever a property is put up for sale or is being prepared to be let to tenants, the responsible party, i.e. the property owner, landlord or responsible agent will need an EPC prior to putting the property on the market. Newly constructed properties also require an EPC. However, when a property is newly constructed, a SAP assessment will need to be carried out and an EPC obtained, much in the same way that air tightness and sound tests must be carried out prior to any sale or rentals.
An EPC is crucial as it must be provided to tenants or buyers before any transaction takes place and the certificate must be up to date to avoid any potential pitfalls or penalties. This applies to any property in England and Wales sold or rented out since 2008.
Exemptions –Whilst most properties in the qualifying circumstances require a valid EPC, there are a few exceptions to the rule; properties that do not require an EPC (under almost any circumstances):
- Listed Buildings – Because there are many aspects of building and construction work that are forbidden to be carried out on listed buildings, they are exempt from EPC legislation. This is partially because the property owner is unable to perform the improvements that may well be needed after an EPC such as fitting double glazing.
- Rooms Rented Out by a Resident Landlord – This refers to property arrangements whereby the questioning tenant is a ‘lodger’ as opposed to a private tenant. In these types of arrangements, it is the resident landlord who is responsible for the EPC rather than the tenant who is effectively renting a room in the landlord’s house.
The Assessment Process
The process of obtaining an EPC involves what is known as an Energy Survey. To carry out this survey, an assessor will visit the property in question and will examine various aspects pertaining to its energy expenditure and efficiency. This includes a number of factors closely related to the overall design and build of the property:
- Windows and Glazing
- Property Insulation
- Cavity Walls
- Main Property Boiler
- Hot Water Tank
- Radiators and Central Heating System
- Roof and Loft Insulation
The assessor will examine these and various other elements of the property and will input the data from the assessment into a specialised computer programme that then makes the SAP calculation that forms the basis of the EPC rating. The result of the programme’s calculations is a numbered rating for the energy efficiency of the property.
It also informs the responsible party of improvements that are recommended to increase the EPC Rating of the property. The tests carried out by the assessor though do not involve any work and it is all completely non-invasive.
Factors Affecting Energy Performance
There are a multitude of factors that affect energy performance and the overall energy efficiency of a property. All of these will contribute towards the EPC Rating attained by a property and all being up to desirable standards, will help lead to a better EPC Rating for the property. factors affecting energy efficiency include:
Property Insulation – The better the insulation (both cavity wall if necessary and roof and loft), the less heat that will be lost from the property. This means that more heat is kept inside where it is required, with less air infiltration into the ‘building envelope,’ all helping to ensure better energy efficiency, less heat loss and lowered energy and heating bills. This also includes the glazing of a property. Double or triple glazing will contribute to a much better insulated property.
Boilers, Hot Water Systems and Heating – There are various types of boilers and hot water and heating systems. Most properties in the UK have central heating whereby a boiler heats the water which is then distributed via a network of pipes throughout the property to the radiators to reach the desired temperature.
However, the efficiency of this process and the efficiency with which the boiler and hot water circulate the necessary hot water to the radiators will contribute to the EPC. This is because the harder the boiler has to work to heat the water and the harder it is to circulate the heated product to radiators, the more energy that will be required and the less efficient the property.
EPC Ratings are presented and measured on an A – G scale with A being the top score for the most energy efficient properties and G being for the least efficient properties. The better the efficiency rating, the more money the occupants will save on their energy bills. Better scores also indicate a lower environmental impact from the property and lover Carbon Dioxide emissions.
The SAP calculation is part of the EPC process and is the calculation derived from the BRE Domestic Energy Model (BREDEM) and the National Home Energy Rating (NHER). These calculations can only be carried out by accredited assessors using the correct equipment and software.
Who is Responsible for an EPC?
The responsibility of ensuring an EPC is obtained falls on the property owner or landlord. The tenants of a rented property are not responsible for providing and paying for them. If the property is managed by an agent, the likelihood is that they will take care of all aspect of the EPC and arrange an assessment. It is important that EPC legislation is adhered to as enforced by the Trading Standards Department of the Local Authority of the property in question.
Failure to adhere to EPC requirements can lead to harsh financial penalties of £200 per breach imposed and up to £4,000 for landlords whose properties do not attain a minimum rating of E on their EPC.
Obligations to Act – Once the results of an EPC are received, there is no obligation on the landlord or property owner to act on the result or recommendations contained within the certificate. Private may seek permission from the landlord to undertake works to improve the overall energy efficiency of the property if they should so wish. From April 2018 however, landlords will be required increase properties’ efficiency if the EPC rating falls below an E rating.